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How can you make a difference working in disability services?

by Chloe Baird
Posted: April 29, 2021

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There is a growing need for Disability Support Workers in Australia. It’s estimated that 90,000 Disability Support Workers will be required across the country to meet demand over the next few years. Government spending on disability is set to reach $22 billion by 2022.  

If you’ve always wanted to follow a meaningful career that would allow you to make a real impact in people’s lives, then a career in the growing disability support sector might be right for you. 

Disability support worker

How many people in Australia are living with a disability? 

There are many different types of disability. A disability can be temporary or permanent, lifelong or acquired. It’s also important to remember that some disabilities are visible and others are not.  

In Australia, there are more than 4 million people living with disability. This translates to around 18% of the population.

Of these people living with a disability: 

  • one in five people have a mental or behavioural disability as their main disabling condition 
  • one in three people are living with a sever disability 
  • one in four people need help with property maintenance 
  • one in four people need help with household chores.  

Disability is more prevalent in older people. For people under the age of 65, one in eight people are living with some level of disability. However, this increases dramatically to one in two people for those aged over 65.  

As the need for disability services increases, the demand for skilled workers will also continue to increase. 

How many people in Australia use disability services? 

In 2019, there were 339,000 people who used specialist disability support services under the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS). 

According to the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW), 40% of people with a disability and living in a private home need assistance from a service provider. These providers are either privately owned commercial organisations or government-run operations.   (Source)

During the height of the COVID-19 pandemic in Australia, the need for disability services skyrocketed. In 2020, the NDS State of the Disability Sector Report stated that 69% of disability service providers actually had to turn away service requests due to a lack of capacity. This highlights the serious need for workers in this sector.  

Giving people access to these services is incredibly important, as disability support services can cover a variety of different requirements – including helping people to participate in social activities and paid work. This helps people to feel more connected and can have an impact on their mental wellbeing.  

How can I make a difference working in disability services? 

There are many different types of disabilities, and as a result people who are living with a disability will need varying levels of assistance and support.  

For some people, they may need help around the home with daily chores like cooking and cleaning. Or their disability could mean they need help with such tasks as personal care such as hygiene and feeding themselves. 

Other people may need specialist help, such as finding a job or being connected with different disability services.  

Many people living with a disability face discrimination. In fact, one in four people living with a disability reported that they had faced some form of discrimination between 2019-20. Discrimination can come in many different forms, and it can deter them from visiting certain places or from participating in social activities.  

But if you choose to follow a career in this sector, you can become an advocate for people living with disabilities and can help them to feel more empowered, independent and more in control of their own lives.  

Some of the different types of jobs in disability services are: 

  • Disability Support Worker 
  • Occupational Therapist 
  • Speech Pathologist 
  • Special Education Teacher’s Aide 
  • Case Manager 
  • Community Services Worker 
  • Mental Health Worker. 

Disability support worker

What qualifications do I need to work in disability services? 

Obtaining a nationally recognised VET qualification in disability support can help to teach you the skills and knowledge you need to help make a real difference in someone’s life.  

To work in disability support, you don’t need to hold a qualification. However, gaining a certificate can help to boost your employment prospects and could help you work towards a supervisory role.  

Open Colleges’ School of Health offers the CHC33015 Certificate III in Individual Support (Disability) as a blended learning course at both our Adelaide and Perth campuses. As this is a blended learning course, you have all the advantages of on-campus and online learning.  

A blended learning course offers you the best of both worlds: the flexibility of online study with the practical experience of on-campus training. Blended learning often incorporates a few days a week of campus-based learning where you interact face-to-face with other students and teachers and also gain hands-on experience. But it also includes an online element which means you can still study from home and work on these sections of the course in your own time.

Can I receive government funding if I study a VET qualification in disability support?  

Because of the demand for Disability Support Workers, there are certain government initiatives that aim to encourage people to study a course in disability support.

These government funding subsidies for disability support courses change depending on the state and the course, and there are certain eligibility requirements you have to meet. But if you do your research beforehand, you should be able to find an option to suit your needs.

If you enrol in the CHC33015 Certificate III in Individual Support (Disability) through Open Colleges, you could be applicable for certain government funding subsidies.  

For example, if you live in South Australia and can attend our Adelaide campus, you could receive government funding which reduces to the tuition fee to only $200.*  

And if you live in Western Australia and can attend our Perth campus, you could be eligible to receive government funding which means you only pay $266 for the tuition fee.*  

Pursue a career in disability support 

There are many different roles within disability support that you could pursue. And as the sector grows, skilled, dedicated workers will continue to be in high demand. 

If you’re passionate about empowering people living with a disability and are looking for a meaningful career with stability and growth, then this could be it.  

Study the CHC33015 Certificate III in Individual Support (Disability) and discover how you can make a difference in people’s lives.  

Enrol with OC today. 


*Please make sure you read all the terms and conditions beforehand. The student tuition fees listed in this article are indicative only and are subject to change. Additional fees may apply such as student service and resource fees. If you want to find out more information about eligibility in relation to the CHC33015 Certificate III in Individual Support (Disability) and you reside in South Australia or Western Australia, contact Open Colleges on 1300 084 021. You can also navigate to the course page to find out more information. 


Chloe Baird

Chloe is an Open Colleges alumnus who now works full time for OC as a Content and Copywriting Specialist. She is passionate about encouraging others to pursue their goals through education.

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